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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Camden Catholic tops St. Joe in finals

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. St. Joseph’s Brogan Heilig (right) deflects a pass from Camden Catholic’s Lauren Iaccio (40) early in last week’s South Jersey Non-Public championship game.

CHERRY HILL—Sometimes the other team is just better than you.

That was the case in last week’s South Jersey Non-Public field hockey final, where Camden Catholic, the top-rated team in the state, controlled the action from start to finish in an 8-0 victory against St. Joseph Academy.

“That’s a really, really good team,” St. Joseph coach Corinne Veight said of Camden Catholic.

“That’s what you get when you have a team full of field hockey players. We have a few, but some of our girls are softball players, or converted soccer players. We have athletes, they have field hockey players and you saw the difference tonight. That’s where we want to be, and now we have an idea of what we need to do to get to that level,” Veight said.

St. Joseph came into last week’s championship game having allowed just seven goals all season. The Wildcats had used a combination of aggressive offensive play, solid defense and strong goaltending to dominate almost every team they had played. That was far from the case against Camden Catholic.

The Irish were able to move the ball quickly around the field, setting up shots on goal with crisp passes that created wide-open looks against a Wildcats defense that always seemed a step behind.

“I was joking after the game that now we know how other teams feel against us,” St. Joe senior Macie Jacquet said.

While Camden Catholic was dictating much of the action, Jacquet and her teammates, who had rarely struggled to score this season, were having trouble even getting the ball across midfield.

“They [Camden Catholic] put a lot of pressure on us. We haven’t seen that before and it took us a long time to adjust to it,” Veight said.

Olivia Bent-Cole, the Irish’s best player, did most of the damage in last week’s game. Bent-Cole, a Northwestern University commit, who plays on the United States National team, scored four goals in the win.

“She’s really good. We do research and we see four of five Division 1 commits on their team. That takes a toll on you. You’re like, ‘yeah, this is going to be a hard [game],” Jacquet said.

Isabella Moore’s goal seven minutes into the game gave the Irish a 1-0 lead as the Wildcats were able to handle Camden Catholic’s pressure early in the matchup.

Following a St. Joe timeout, Camden Catholic scored twice in 90 seconds to take control as Bent-Cole tallies both goals.

In the second quarter, the Irish added two more goals, as Olivia Stazi and Madison Logan each scored.

The third quarter saw Bent-Cole tally her third score while Logan added another goal. Bent-Cole closed out the scoring with an early goal in the fourth quarter.

The loss marked just the second time this season St. Joseph failed to score, the other being a 0-0 tie against rival Hammonton.

For Jacquet and fellow seniors Grace Gonzalez, Isabella Lewis, Jenna Calchi, Brogan Heilig and Bella Davis, the game marked the end of their high school careers.

“We all played hard. There was a lot of emotion in the game, and I think that affected us a little bit. We were a little intimidated maybe, but we played hard and put out what we could,” Jacquet said.

The loss also ended Veight’s first year as St. Joe’s head coach.

“This was an amazing experience for us, especially our seniors. I’m proud of our girls for getting this far. A lot of teams didn’t make it this far, and it shows how hard we worked in the offseason.

Although the Wildcats lost the game last week, Veight felt it would help the program grow.

“This was really a breath of fresh air for us. Camden Catholic battled really hard. It’s nice to see a team like that; a team that’s what we want to be. In the Cape Atlantic League, we don’t see a lot of competition like that. To come in and see Camden Catholic, in my career, I never coached against a team this strong. So, I think it was a good learning lesson for me, and a good lesson for our younger girls to learn what we need to work on in the offseason,” Veight said.


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